So much for that human touch.
In most markets around the globe, social media communication has become the most influential channel for business purchases -- outranking face-to-face meetings, conferences, client entertaining or traditional trade advertising -- according to new research from Trendstream’s GlobalWebIndex.
In June, 15% of “global decision makers” surveyed by the social media consultancy cited “conversations with people from a company/organisation on a social network” as having the greatest influence on business decisions. Cited by 13% of respondents, “direct mails” ranked second.
Still, 16% of “senior decision makers” -- or those at senior manager level and above --- cited conversations as well as “sales presentations” as having the greatest influence on business decisions.
Overall, however, conversations online now outrank advertising, direct mailings, Webinars, conferences and corporate events while “branded communities created by the company/organisation” are seen as more influential than corporate events and entertainment, according to the GlobalWebIndex.
Select markets still favor face-to-face meetings over online ones, GlobalWebIndex found. Turkey, for one, is one market where face-to-face “sales presentations” are valued over “online conversations,” which lag by 28 percentage points.
Face-to-face meetings also matter most in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Mexico and Indonesia.
In Australia, Spain, Argentina, the UK and Japan, “online conversations” are most valued over “sales presentations,” the GWI found.
Worldwide, despite an already high level of usage between July 2009 and July 2011, social network usage increased from 41% to 60%, while micro-blogging grew from 21% to 39%.
In particular, senior decision makers in the United States have increased their use of social networks over the same period, with 59% now having managed a profile in the last month compared to 53% in July 2009.
The GWI is based in interviews with 17,425 “decision makers” in 27 markets from July 2009 to June 2011. All those interviewed -- across 14 categories and five different sizes of company -- had directly made purchase decisions for their organization.